We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Weissbrod and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Spectrum Laboratory, is a nonprofit based out of Los Angeles, that empowers and educates autistic and neurodivergent artists in acting, film, music and animation. We prepare and coach our student artists for the entertainment industry setting them up for success! Spectrum Laboratory’s mission is to create inspiring stories that helps bring out their student artists talent, confidence, unique abilities and in return, improves their quality of life; which makes the world a better place .
We started in 2015 with the dream of getting our autistic and neurodivergent artists jobs in the entertainment industry and creating professional mind blowing content. So we started making short films, music videos, songs, animation and coached our students in many fields such as acting, voice acting, music composition and more! In our over 5 years we have seen some of our students get acting jobs on television shows (Netflix’s Atypical, Eric Andre Show, 9-1-1, Everything’s Going to be Okay) as well as getting cast in short and feature films. Our artists have also gotten freelance work as animators, music composers, and in voice over! The dream is becoming a reality and has started making waves within the entertainment industry.
Autistic adults have a high rate of unemployment at 85%. Most autistic adults continue living with a family member and don’t have a job after high school. At Spec Labs our goal is to change that statistic, by showing the world what they can do and help our artists find meaningful work and explore their creativity.
We hope the amazing work we do will be shared, and the love will be spread, around the world! The awesome talent and stories at Spec Labs need to be seen and heard with a world wide audience! We also want to be the “go to place” for autistic and neurodivergent artists to seek their creative path in the entertainment industry and to help them live out their passions and dreams. We’re changemakers who challenge the stigma of autism by illuminating diversity and telling inspirational stories that break down Hollywood’s inclusion barrier. That’s why our motto is “Let Us Be Heard!”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started off as an actor and filmmaker in LA when I was 15 years old. I auditioned like crazy, even landed some parts in tv, film and commercials. I also wrote, produced and directed numerous independent short films with friends around town. As I got older, I got tired of the Hollywood machine and I wanted to do creative work that I could be proud of. I started volunteering and working within the autism community in LA. I quickly realized there was a wealth of creativity and amazing stories to be told within the community.
Spectrum Laboratory is truly the artistic endeavor I am the most proud of accomplishing in my career. Instead of making films with other actors around LA, I am now getting to tell compelling and meaningful stories with the autism community.
For example, In 2019 I made a short with one of my film students at Spec Labs, based on their real life experiences as a young transgender autistic individual. The film is called “Boys Don’t Wear Dresses” and it’s my favorite project I have ever worked on and am most proud of. It was a full circle moment for me, bringing together the work I’ve been doing with Spec Labs and my past creative experiences and education. “Boys Don’t Wear Dresses” is an award winning short film, with 17 film festivals and 7 awards under our belt! I’m in awe of this project and the love that came together from the autism community and my filmmaker friends.
To watch the trailer and learn more about the film visit: https://www.speclabs.org/boys-don-t-wear-dresses
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When any of my friends come into town I take them to see live music. Live music is the best. There’s so many amazing venues in LA. Food, c’mon, you can get anything at anytime in this city. But here’s a few day experiences I love. 1. Go to Solstice Canyon in Malibu, hike, then go to Malibu Seafood Shack and get some fresh seafood right off PCH. Then take a dip in the ocean if the weather is warm, which most likely, it will be.
2. Go to Hollywood Bowl, pack a picnic and let the night take you away.
3. Go to the Broad Museum and after, why not go across the street to the MOCA. Get your art culture on. Then walk down to the Grand Central Market and get some yummy dishes from around the world. it’s one of LA’s hidden gems. Then make your way to Clifton’s for some drinks and dancing at night. Now that’s a full day, Woo!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My partner in awesomeness, Garth Herberg. He is the other co-founder and head of the music department at Spec Labs. He creates original songs, music compositions and records with our talented autistic and neurodivergent artists. He even started the inclusive Spec Band that does live performances all around LA! There would be no Spec Labs without Garth. We started this amazing adventure together and there’s no one else I could have done this with. His heart is as big as they get.